With less than a month to go before the start of a new NHL season, many questions start to emerge. Who will be the team to beat? Who's going to have a breakout season? Who will lead the league in scoring? All of these questions will be asked repeatedly throughout the season, leading up to the playoffs. The Chicago Blackhawks should definitely be considered one of the teams to beat and they have players on their roster who could be in for breakout seasons. Unfortunately for individual statistics, the Blackhawks players don't always finish near the top of the league scoring list. This can mainly be attributed to the team having strong depth and several players who fill the score sheet. So with that in mind we ask the question, who will lead the Chicago Blackhawks in points for the 2013-2014 regular season?
Let's take a look at some of the nominees:
Kane led the Blackhawks in points during the 2013 shortened season. He finished with 23 goals and 32 assists. His 55 points were seven more than the next player on the team. In 2011-2012, Kane had 23 goals and 43 assists in 82 games, which was good enough for third on the team. Kane, 24, is entering his seventh season with the Blackhawks. He has shown the ability to be a constant 20 goal scorer and he has a strong ability to find his teammates. Kane displays exceptional speed and stick handling in the open ice and creates a lot of opportunities for the Blackhawks.
Last season, Toews scored 23 goals and added 25 assists. His 48 points were second on the team to Kane. In 2011-2012, Toews missed some of the season due to injury and only played 59 games. He still ended up with 29 goals and 28 assists, which ranked fourth on the team's scoring list for that season. Toews, 25, is an all around player who can do it all on both sides of the ice. He can beat you offensively with skill and speed, as well as play physical in front of the net. Toews also spends a lot of time helping his team on defense. He was rewarded for his defensive efforts this past season as he was named the Frank J. Selke winner. The Selke goes to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive aspect of the game. While he shows the potential to put up big point totals, that is the least of Toews' concerns. Being the Captain and leader of the team, he has more to do on the ice than just fill the stat sheet.
Hossa, 34, has put up monster seasons in the past. His best year coming in 2006-2007 with the Atlanta Thrashers where he scored 43 goals and added 57 assists for 100 points. Though he won't likely get near that point total again, Hossa still displays the ability and skill to contribute for the Blackhawks. Last season, Hossa had 17 goals and 14 assists. In 2011-2012, Hossa led the Blackhawks in scoring with 29 goals and 48 assists. His 77 points that season were eight more than anyone on the team. Hossa is getting older and is obviously not the same player he once was. He does however have the potential to lead the team in scoring again for this upcoming season.
Sharp, 31, is a goal scorer. That's not to say he doesn't pass the puck, but his main strength is finding the back of the net. Sharp only played 28 games last year due to injury. In his shortened season, he scored six goals and added 14 assists. In 2011-2012, Sharp finished second on the team in scoring with 33 goals and 36 assists. Sharp has scored more than 30 goals in a season three times, but his career best of 71 points in a season is far from spectacular. Sharp will likely play an important role for the Blackhawks once again for this upcoming season by providing an offensive boost. He will likely finish top five on the team, but will not lead them in scoring for the 2013-2014 season.
- Brandon Saad:
Saad was a rookie last year for the Blackhawks. He finished the season with 10 goals and 17 assists. The youngster has shown great potential and will definitely improve his numbers in a full 82 game season. Saad has been invited to the United States Olympic orientation camp and has had the chance to improve his skills over the summer. He is also being given a chance to take over as the Blackhawks' second line center. If he does take over that role, he has a great chance to put up big numbers. Saad would really benefit from being surrounded by talented wingers.
- Brandon Pirri:
Pirri spent the last three seasons with the Blackhawks' AHL affilitiate, the Rockford IceHogs. He has improved each year for Rockford and has increased his point total each season. In 2012-2013, Pirri scored 22 goals and added 53 assists in 76 games. Like Saad, Pirri will also be given a shot to become the second line center. If given the chance, Pirri could have a nice season for the Blackhawks as he has shown an excellent ability to pass the puck. Being paired on a line with guys like Kane, Hossa or Sharp would allow Pirri to assume his natural role as a playmaker.
With all this being said, it looks like Patrick Kane will lead the team in points for this upcoming season. Hossa is getting older and though he should make an impact, he won't lead the team in scoring. Sharp is a natural goal scorer, but doesn't put up the assist totals to lead the team in points. Young players like Saad and Pirri could finish in the top five on the team, but don't seem ready to take over the team lead. Toews will always be around the top. His ability to score and find his teammates make him a safe pick. However, the fact that he does so much more on the ice, from taking face offs to constantly helping out on defense, it doesn't seem likely that he will be able to do enough to beat Kane for this upcoming season. Patrick Kane is coming off an impressive season where he won the Conn Smythe trophy in the playoffs. Look for Kane to continue his hot streak and lead the Blackhawks in points for the 2013-2014 season.
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